Informational Posts / My Personal Experiences / Supporting a Thyroid Patient

Part 2: More ‘Harmless’ Things Said by Doctors To Thyroid Patients

Part 2: More ‘Harmless’ Things Said by Doctors To Thyroid Patients

A few years ago now, I put together the article 11 ‘Harmless’ Things Said by Doctors That Actually Hurt Thyroid Patients.

Since then, I’ve had a lot of feedback from fellow thyroid patients with even more remarks they’ve received and found unhelpful.

Now, there are doctors out there who are respectful, listen to their patients and don’t belittle them, but as always, there are also some doctors (and more than we’d like) that aren’t so helpful.

They may think that the below comments are helpful advice, a ‘reality check’ or just plain correct, but as people living with thyroid conditions such as hypothyroidism, we know ourselves what it’s really like. And these comments are not helpful.

Frustrated With Thyroid Doctor

1. “It’s Easy to Blame Everything on Your Thyroid.”

I’ve heard this one and not just from doctors either, but work colleagues and others around me, too.

It may seem like we’re ‘blaming everything on our thyroid’ and yes, while we should keep an open mind that there can be multiple causes for certain symptoms and complaints, we also can’t ignore that thyroid hormone is required by every cell in the body and impacts so many bodily functions and systems, from heart health to fertility, metabolism, digestive health and even brain function.

Afterall, there are many symptoms of hypothyroidism. 

2. “You’re Middle Aged, It’s Normal to Feel Tired.”

Thyroid fatigue is different to ‘normal tired’. When we say we feel fatigued – true thyroid fatigue – it’s not the same as how ‘everyone else feels tired’. We are exhausted and barely able to function.

Assuming someone’s fatigue is down to ‘just getting older’ and not actually checking their thyroid levels, means that a lot of people go undiagnosed and untreated for longer than they should have to.

3. “There Is Nothing More We Can Do.”

There is always more we can do.

Thyroid tests coming back ‘in range’? Try optimising them instead. It can make a world of difference.

Levels optimised but still have ongoing symptoms? Explore other common coexisting issues such as:

Other lifestyle areas we can be guided on improving:

There is often more to be done than just taking thyroid medication alone, and if someone is taking thyroid medication yet still feels unwell, then working on these areas can make a big difference.

4. “You Just Need to Get More Sleep.”

This just isn’t how thyroid symptoms work. Believe us, we’ve tried sleeping a lot and we’re not cured of fatigue yet! And if you live with someone with hypothyroidism, you’ve probably noticed how much they sleep and how little difference it seems to make.

We can even wake up and feel more tired than when we went to bed the night before. 

Thyroid hormone directly controls and affects energy levels, which means that fatigue is the most commonly complained of symptom. We can be easily fatigued and may even feel tired all the time, scarcely waking up feeling refreshed.

The best way I can describe it is every-second-I’m-consciously-having-to-keep-each-eyelid-open tired. It’s I’m-scared-to-blink-or-I’ll-fall-asleep tired.

Getting a good night’s sleep won’t fix this symptom when it is caused by a condition that impacts your metabolism and thus, how energy is produced.

5. “You Don’t Need Thyroid Antibodies Checking.”

Too many people are left undiagnosed of Hashimoto’s. Since an estimated 90% of us with hypothyroidism also have Hashimoto’s, it’s really useful to have it confirmed (or ruled out). [1]

A lot of conventionally trained doctors don’t see the benefit of confirming whether a patient’s hypothyroidism is caused by Hashimoto’s, as their treatment often remains the same.

However, knowing if your hypothyroidism is autoimmune can affect what treatment and lifestyle changes or other interventions help you to live well with it.

When we have Hashimoto’s, there is often a lot of other work to be done, in terms of calming down the autoimmune response and addressing other parts of the body that often go awry. Getting my Hashimoto’s in to remission formed a big part of recovering my health.

6. “You’re Not Trying Hard Enough.”

Enter the victim blaming.

“You’re not trying hard enough to be positive about this. That’s why you’re depressed.”
“You’re not trying hard enough with therapy to deal with your diagnosis.”

Maybe we feel our medical team isn’t trying hard enough to get to the root cause of ongoing symptoms?

7. “You’re Just Anxious. Stay off the Internet.”

Pinning our physical symptoms on a mental health condition is far from helpful.

Yes, some people do have anxiety alongside their hypothyroidism, but it is not the cause for all lingering symptoms, and hypothyroidism is well-recognised to cause and contribute to mental health effects.

Not investigating whether the thyroid condition is behind the change in mental health and wellbeing, and instead plastering another medication over the top (in the form an anti-anxiety medication for example) just creates a growing list of prescriptions and doesn’t address the root cause.

Also, some doctors don’t see the value of people with health conditions using online forums and support groups. Whilst I do agree that misinformation can be hard to sift through and that for some people, using online forums may increase their anxiety, they are also a major lifeline and source of help and support for many. Each person should be able to decide for themselves, whether they find them helpful.

8. “Changing Your Diet Won’t Make a Difference.”

Conventionally trained doctors are often unaware of the dietary changes many thyroid patients make and feel better for.

These can range from removing caffeine and alcohol from their diet, reducing sugar intake and eating in a way that keeps blood sugar levels more balanced (including more protein and healthy fats for example), to going further by trialling elimination diets, discovering that gluten, dairy, soy or other types of food exacerbate their thyroid symptoms and thus, remove them and feel better for it.

We all know that what we eat can impact how we feel physically, but what makes it tricky is that there is no one diet or way of eating that works for everyone with thyroid issues. Saying this, it is also unhelpful to therefore make a blanket statement that dietary changes help no one at all.

Would you add anything to this list? Let me know in the comments below.



See also:

Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate Book Girl HoldingMy book Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate: When You’re Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired, recounts how I managed to get back to living a full life whilst having autoimmune hypothyroidism.

About Author

Rachel Hill is the highly ranked and multi-award winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, speaker and author behind The Invisible Hypothyroidism. Her thyroid advocacy work includes writing articles, authoring books, producing her Thyroid Family email newsletters and speaking on podcasts and at events about the many aspects thyroid disease affects and how to overcome these. She is well-recognised as a crucial and influential contributor to the thyroid community and has a large social media presence. Her bestselling books include "Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate" and "You, Me and Hypothyroidism".


  • Fiona Murray
    September 28, 2023 at 10:19 pm

    The endochrinologist who went down the “well it’s all very complicated so there’s not much we can do” This statement frustrates me SO much. It should be reframed as, “Yes, the thyroid is part of a complex interaction of hormones, HOWEVER the good news is that means there are lots of parts of the system that we can affect to work on improving how you are feeling”

  • Kimberly
    September 26, 2023 at 6:01 pm

    Being told that at some point I have to “get used to being tired” and go about normal activities/responsibilities in spite of it. I live in constant fear of my symptoms and flare ups as I cannot financially afford to reduce work hours or miss days, even though I was feeling better when I was working less.

  • Elke Crump
    September 21, 2023 at 4:34 pm

    Being told that having two small children, it is normal to be tired (I was so tired I could barely stand up) and losing my hair by the handfuls.

  • Sarah
    September 17, 2023 at 8:43 pm

    Told by one of my doctors last year when 2 of my previous bloods test results where borderline that we’re all tired, I eventually got medication on my third blood test. I’m still in the process of getting to the right level of medication & Got bloods results last week from the same doctor & was told bloods are fine even though I still have symptoms & when I mentioned optimal range she said where did I get that from Google doctor. So I’m now moving doctors

  • Christine
    September 8, 2023 at 3:51 am

    Just told by my doctor that is is normal to feel exhausted and sleep 12 hours a day and to feel confused and out of it – she had just reduced my meds and it didn’t seem to be working. She says all that is normal and I should “just get used to it”. I’m looking for another doctor.

  • Tammy Highley
    September 1, 2023 at 1:29 pm

    Being told will feel better if you lose weight but not giving any support and blaming it on antidepressants even though you on lowest amount telling you you need to just get on with it.


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